United States Navy veteran Cory Singleton, DCS, is embarking on a journey he never anticipated, standing before a room full of Augusta University students as an adjunct faculty member in the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences. It is a transformation that took two years to unfold, and is a path that epitomizes resilience, the pursuit of knowledge and the power of giving back.
Rewind to 2020 when Singleton was in the midst of his own educational journey.
After dedicating nearly a decade of his life to the U.S. Navy, Singleton was looking for a chance to expand his horizons, particularly in the realm of cybersecurity. While he had earned a master’s degree in information technology and project management during his military service and was defending his dissertation for a Doctorate in Computer Science, he felt the need to bridge the gap in his cybersecurity expertise.
It was during this search for cyber training that Augusta University appeared on his radar.
“Augusta University just happened to pop up in a search as I was trying to find a way for veterans to get certifications, and I found the Cyber Defender certificate program,” Singleton said. “I had already earned my master’s in IT and project management without any IT certifications or direct job experience. I was also at the end of my doctorate in computer science without any academic background in math, let alone big data analytics. So, I was very fortunate to find the cyber defender certificate program.”
A Cyber Defender certificate is a specialized credential or training program designed to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect computer systems, networks and digital assets from cyber threats and attacks.
In 2020, Singleton enrolled in Augusta University’s Cyber Defender certificate program as one of its inaugural students. The intensive program spanned three semesters, complete with evening classes, fitting seamlessly into his busy life.
“I had a toddler to entertain, I defended my dissertation, and then my daughter was born during the final semester with AU,” he said.
For Singleton, the Cyber Defender certificate was more than just a piece of paper; it was the key to unlocking his potential as a cybersecurity professional.
“I get to give back to education because education gave so much to me. I hope I can also give back to the professors who not only gave me lessons and helped mentor me but helped me get into that mindset that you are worth it, and you can, in fact, do this.”Cory Singleton, PhD
Throughout his journey at SCCS, Singleton was surrounded by mentors who saw his potential. Among them, Professor Michael Nowatkowski, PhD, and adjunct faculty member Matt Sherburne emerged as guiding lights on his path. Their unwavering support and mentorship left an indelible mark on Singleton.
This profound influence drove Singleton’s decision to return to Augusta University, this time not as a student, but as an adjunct faculty instructor. It was a path that allowed him to give back to the institution that had nurtured his growth and development.
“I wanted a way to give back to those types of professors that had helped me,” Singleton explained. “And they said the best way to give back is to instruct and be a part of the community.”
And so, he did. With a heart brimming with gratitude and determination, Singleton now stands before a new generation of learners, eager to provide the kind of mentorship that once ignited his own passion for learning.
“I get to give back to education because education gave so much to me,” he said. “I hope I can also give back to the professors who not only gave me lessons and helped mentor me but helped me get into that mindset that you are worth it, and you can, in fact, do this.”
“Cory’s passion for helping others succeed, his experience with the topics he is teaching, and his willingness to continue to learn make him an ideal instructor for our students,” Nowatkowski said “His high energy and desire to do the best he can personally also make him an ideal instructor. He not only cares that the students learn for their own future success but also wants to ensure they are receiving the most current information at the time of instruction.”
What sets Singleton apart is his ability to relate to students on a profound level because he was just where they are now.
“I know the headaches with the material and learning it,” Singleton said. “I have students who are asking me questions about why they got a particular question wrong, and I am like, ‘yep, I already know because I got the same exact question wrong.’ So, I can help them directly because I literally just went through the course myself,” Cory empathized.
Nowatkowski hopes that Singleton’s influence extends beyond the classroom, inspiring students to embrace lifelong learning.
“I hope that students learn as much as they can from Cory, asking him questions about how all the theory works in the real world. Cory has experience with how the topics he teaches are implemented in practice,” said Nowatkowski. “I hope students take from Cory his love of learning so that they are inspired to be lifelong learners.”